Thursday, August 27, 2009

Bruce almighty AKA Client #0005

I wanted to introduce you all to my newest client. His name is Bruce and he is one cool dude. He jumped into this hobby with both feet and no parachute. There is something about his spirit that impressed me, but, I knew as soon as he quoted Tennessee Williams; " There is a time for departure even when there's no certain place to go" I knew at that point we would be able to work very well together. Bruce turned the whole thing into one big adventure and an adventure he got.
The first thing Bruce did was buy a 1964 Sovereign of the Road. He wants to restore it and make a few custom touches not offered in 1964. He needed something to tow it, so he bought 1971 Travelall in Phoenix Arizona and then flew out to pick it up. Right between Phoenix and Baltimore is Southern California where a 1960 Tradewind parts trailer was waiting for him to pick up for the custom touches we were planning on the Sovereign. He towed the Tradewind all the way to me in Baltimore. This guy has salt and I am impressed with that kind of spirit.
Somewhere in the middle of Tennessee, the Tradewind lost the door and two pieces of glass blew out. Bruce patched it up and kept on trucking. Trucking at a maximum speed of 55 mph I might add. He found some baling wire and some plywood and covered the holes. The door is still M.I.A.
As you can see, the door left in a very violent way.
Not much meat for the rivets to go into there. Unlike the upper hinge, there was no plate behind the skin to hold the hinge on to. Most likely the handle was not tied off to the grab handle and when the door came open, it chose to fly away. It is still at large. Did I mention that?
This Tradewind has been ridden very hard and put up wet a number of times. To quote Uwe, at Area 63 Restorations who helped get Bruce rolling in California; "She has been hammered" The Wally Byam's Caravans sign, WBCCI numbers, and bumper mount spare tire mount lead me to believe this trailer went on a caravan at one time. I will have to do a little investigating into her history. We dropped the Tradewind in the yard and he followed me up to Kutztown, PA to fetch the 1964 Sovereign that started all of this.
The Sovereign was sitting rather fore lorn in a campground that had seen much better days. We knew the rubber was dead, so right after I pulled the wheels, Bruce ran out to get new rubber mounted. I stayed behind to pack bearings and get things ready to roll. The bearing contained some very liquid stuff that was grease a long time ago. First hub I pulled...
... second hub, third, and fourth... all four had broken adjustor springs. I got to go out and search for new springs. NAPA said "yeah, we got em'. Have them here by 10" "TEN?" "Yes Sir, Ten on Thursday" I then went off looking for Grimms Trailer in Lyons. Grimms could fix anything. Four springs from the springs bin, four bucks. I went back to the trailer and put the hubs back together. Right as I got the hubs put on, Bruce returned with the new tires. Things were falling right into place.
Next up we got everything secure and turned our attention to lights. At this point the smooth day came to a screeching halt. The sun was going down, none of the lights worked and neither did the very important electric brakes. I had temporary lights, but I was very uncomfortable letting Bruce take off with 31 feet of trailer pushing against his 1971 Travelall. I needed a Plan "E" and it needed to be a good one. I either had to spend the night, drive two and a half hours home and come back the next day, or find a place to run down the electrical glitch. I then realized that Grimms was the place to take it.
I followed Bruce and acted as his brake lights and turn signals. The old 64 looked sweet behind the Travelall. We took it slow and headed over to Grimms.
We unhitched her in the yard at Grimms and called it a day.
For a guy that has gone through so many set backs and change of plans, Bruce handled it very well. He was clowning around and rolling with the punches with the best of them. I headed for home and Bruce headed to a Hotel. I was just too far from home and it was too late in the day to correct this situation.
The next morning Grimms got Bruce fully working brakes and running light fairly quickly. Bruce made it home to Boston without any more issues. He is now going to do the grunt work of gutting her out so I can repair all the structural issues.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Windows and Widows

Work has been continuing on the 1959 Caravanner. Well, actually work has been completed on the Caravanner as of this post, but it sounded better that way.
The front window on this old girl was a mess. Someone had torn the window off and put a board in to allow for installing a window air conditioner. Everything except the top of the sash was gone. Finding a new sash was a challenge until I made the right call. Actually my client told me who to call, for he is all over the Airstream world here in the States. He seems to know of every trailer for sale and where all the parts are these days.
Mark the Airstream Guy had a sash and sent it out to me. I was rather surprised when it came as four pieces. A trip to the welder, a little cash handed off quietly and the sash was whole again. I installed new glass, seals, cranks, and latches and now we have a fully functioning window again. I will tell you, windows that function make a huge impact on the look and feel of a trailer. If you are going to do anything, I recommend windows be the first thing you do. With the completion of the windows, this "caravan or van" as the British call them was ready to go to her owner in the UK. Off to the Port I went again.
The Port is a fascinating place. I am amazed at the things I see there. The hundreds of pieces of farm equipment going or coming. The volume of used late model cars is astounding. I won't even go into how much military equipment there is. You see, taking photos at the Port is not really allowed. I found that out this trip in. I had a black SUV with guys dressed in black uniforms inform me of this. I was told "take photos of your load and nothing else." But before I was informed of this, I did get a few innocent photos.
How about this Cadillac? How could you not like those fins?
Galaxy 500?
Not sure what those two are, because at this point, the SUV was right behind me...
While photographing my load, my arm slipped a little and took a photo of this sagged out Airstream motor home. The interior looked like a herd of cats had a fight in there. I want to know how the new owner of this rig is going to find parts across the pond. I see how hard it is from over here to find them. That girl is a hunk of junk and someone is going to be very unhappy when they arrive at the Port to claim it.
There was this 1963 Globetrotter also. Big creased dent in the front end cap. I wonder if the buyer realizes that is virtually impossible to fix. Maybe a big band aid shaped patch will hide that. The interior had been removed and then just tossed back inside without any care or consideration. I could feel the seller saying "SUCKER,... ha, ha, ha..." as he tossed the the interior back inside.

You might remember the sad 70's trailer I mentioned in an earlier post. Well, now she has some company as she waits for her boat to come in. Unfortunately for her, my trailer's boat comes today and she will be sitting there alone again with in 24 hours. Thankfully someone was nice enough to lift her tongue onto some blocks. She too is a very sad looking trailer.

This trip into the Port was filled with beat down worn out trailers. I left wondering if the buyer over seas really know what they are getting into with these rigs. Every one of the trailers there was in need of very serious work. Hope there are some excellent restoration shops to handle them. I wonder what happens over there when they are "over come" by the project. Do they put it on Ebay and find a new home for it? Does it just get shoved off behind the barn and forgotten about? Perhaps a trip over seas is needed to find these things out.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Dramatic change on the cheap

I wanted to show you all how much two hours gets you in my shop. How much bang for the buck can you get?
This is the door eyebrow on a client's 1959 Caravanner. It is beat up and very unsightly. I do not know about you, but the first place my eye goes when I see an Airstream is right to this location. A change needed to be made, but these eyebrows are not made any more. Except, I know how to fabricate them, so they are made today.

I got out the shears, the bead roller, and my hand brake. Some 2024 T-0 and a couple of hours later, we had a nice new eye brow.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Roll on roll off

I am getting to know the system at the Port of Baltimore quite well now. No one is very friendly and they all have their finite union jobs to do, but slowly, I am catching on to how it works. Yesterday morning I went down and dropped of this 1963 Overlander. She is South Hampton bound. Not a bad trailer at all, with very nice skin and a fairly original interior. Too bad like all of them, she needs it all from axles to floor and a bit in between.

Once again, this is not the only Airstream waiting to be rolled on the boat.

There was this 1970 something Overlander too. She looked rather dejected sitting with her tongue right on the ground, all alone in the staging area. Who ever dropped her off did not even have the decency to throw a block under her. I tried to get the lot coordinator to let me park my Overlander next to her so they might not both feel so lonely, but she was bound for the other side of world. Her boat was not due in for a few more days.

There were also some new Euro Airstreams waiting for their boat to come in. I counted twelve, but could only take photos of these two. The guys at the Port do not like seeing the camera out. It must be the hundreds and hundreds of tanks, Humvies, and other military equipment getting ready to go for a boat ride to one of the wars.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Eight well spent hours.

I have heard it said that the eyes are the windows to the soul. On a classic Airstream Caravanner the windows are the eyes to the soul. The aesthetic of those three long horizontal windows is something very keen to say the least. The previous owner had zero insight into this fact when he covered them over with materials to block out the light or to block out peoples vision inside. This 1959 Caravanner needed badly to be changed back to the way it was intended.

The front window had a piece of plastic in it. The middle one was covered with styrofoam and a sheet of aluminum. No glass was in either of those two openings. The back window had glass, but the inside was covered from the inside with plywood that had been riveted to the inside frame.

I installed new butyl window seal, new glass, inner gasket, and outer gaskets. I also replaced the cranks and the missing crank track to one of the windows. Now all three windows work perfectly. The one that was missing cranks still needs the locking latches installed as soon as I get the right size screws to attach them.

The side window was a chuck of super brittle acrylic. I am amazed at how much the outer gaskets shrinks. That piece is 15" long and it had shrunk a full 2" in length.

This window got the full treatment just like the other side and now works perfectly. It is amazing what a major transformation took place in a mere eight hours.